The importance of proper drug disposal

International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking

The 26th June marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This day is organised by the United Nations and aims to raise awareness about drug issues around the world. The day was first observed in 1989 and has helped to promote action to reduce drug abuse.

Perhaps most people’s first thought when thinking about drug abuse is to link to the problem to illegal drugs, however there is a pressing need to safely dispose of unused medical drugs and needles.

Citron Hygiene are experts in the safe disposal of medical waste to help prevent the negative impact improper disposal of drugs can have for people and environment.

Health & Safety Risks to People

If medical drugs and used needles are not disposed of in a safe way, then it can have a detrimental effect on people for a number of reasons. Medical waste that is incinerated at low temperatures releases toxic emissions, which can contain heavy metals and dioxins. The residual ash can contaminate water and food sources. This is why medical waste should never be put in regular waste bins, as it can end up mixed with landfill waste.

Needles and syringes are often used in hospitals, medical surgeries and pharmacies for medical reasons. The improper disposal of sharps that have not been properly sterilized can put people in danger. All sharps needed to be disposed of in a safe manner in accordance with British safety standards. Citron’s sharps disposal units feature a self-locking final closure making them impenetrable to both staff and members of the public, guaranteeing safe disposal and reducing the possibility of needle abuse.

Improper disposal of drugs could lead to the temptation to self-medicate with inappropriate drugs, which can encourage drug abusers. This is why it is vital to make sure that all unused drugs are disposed of in a safe and secure manner to reduce the chance of drug abuse from occurring.

Environmental Risks

There are many ways that medical waste can make its way into the environment, the main source is not surprisingly by people and animals as they are excreted through urine or faeces. Between 30-90% of the active ingredients in an oral dose is excreted and the metabolites of any drug can potentially remain active in the environment after being excreted.

Another problem is when people choose to dispose of old medicines. The disposal of these drugs is often not done properly. Unused drugs need to be disposed of in a safe and regulated manner, however they are often thrown in the sink, down the toilet or put in black bags with other domestic type waste. The negative effects of doing this can include:

  • Unused medications entering the water system by being flushed through sewer systems that with current technology are not able to remove them
  • The adverse effects upon animals and fish living in the water supply, who can be affected by the ‘cocktail’ of drugs that are entering the water system, and the effects this may have on our food supply.

Risks to Animals

Apart from the already mentioned dangers that are posed to wildlife, household pharmaceuticals are also toxic to pets, mainly cats and dogs. These include:

NSAIDs (non-steroidial anti-inflammatory drugs): These include ibuprofen, aspirin etc. Although safe for humans, these can cause serious harm to your pets. Cats, dogs, birds, and other small mammals such as gerbil’s and hamsters may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure if they consume these drugs.

Acetaminophen (e.g. paracetamol): Safe for adults and children, but toxic to animals – especially cats. Can cause damage to red blood cells and cause liver failure in dogs.

Antidepressants (e.g. Citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine etc.): Although these drugs can occasionally be used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. In addition, it can also cause a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and elevated temperature.

Is There a Solution?

Healthcare waste disposal is a complex and specialist field. Fortunately, as leading experts, Citron Hygiene are on hand to guide you through the legal requirements and ensure that you remain fully compliant with strict legislation.

Our service provides the assurance that your medical waste is professionally dealt with. Our dedicated team of healthcare waste professionals ensure that your waste disposal requirements utilise the very latest technologies and keep ahead of legislative changes.

An important safety issue is the correct disposal of waste products such as prescription drugs and medicines that are out of date. Citron Hygiene provides an effective system which guarantees the safe disposal of pharmaceutical and out of date prescription medicines to minimise the chance of drug abuse.

Citron Hygiene provide a range of medical waste disposal units, available in a range of sizes and provide a service frequency to suit your needs.


Our CODE (COntrolled drugs DEnaturing kit) is highly effective in disposing of controlled drugs such as Diazepam, Midazolam and others. It meets all the requirements of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 which allows authorised and trained personnel to witness the destruction of these controlled drugs. Once rendered harmless and irretrievable the units can be disposed of in a Pharmaceutical Unit.


An important safety issue is the correct disposal of pharmaceutical products such as prescription drugs and medicines that are out of date. Citron Hygiene provides an effective system which guarantees the safe disposal of pharmaceutical and out of date prescription medicines. Available in a range of unit sizes and a service frequency to suit your needs. The units are fully compliant with the latest legislation and available in a range of sizes to meet your exact requirements.

Cytotoxic & Cytostatic Medicinal Waste

This refers to all drugs with direct anti-tumour activity including anti-cancer drugs, monoclonal antibodies, partially targeted treatments, and immunosuppressive drugs. Direct exposure to cytotoxic and/or cytostatic drugs can occur during administration or handling, and can be the result of inhalation, ingestion or absorption, the results of which can be harmful.

Citron Hygiene understand the importance of implementing measures to ensure the safe handling and disposal of such substances. Our Cytotoxic & Cytostatic Medicinal Waste units are fully compliant with the latest legislation and available in a range of sizes to meet your exact requirements.

Unused Drug Disposal in Domestic Homes

Domestic households are not subject to the prohibition on mixing hazardous medicines with non hazardous medicines.  Medicines should not be removed from the final inner layer of packaging, for example blister packs, bottles etc. This significantly reduces the potential for chemical incompatible medicines to react.

The Citron Hygiene Promise

Citron Hygiene has developed a unique and integrated approach to disposing of medical waste. This approach is designed to meet your specific needs and support the well-being of your staff, customers and members of the public.

We also underpin your corporate and social responsibilities and support your brand. We offer great value solutions that work every time and that stand independent testing to the very highest hygiene standards. Our comprehensive range of products and services are designed to meet your hygiene and energy saving needs. It is why customers choose Citron Hygiene and why they choose to stay.

Contact our team to learn more about the safe disposal of medical waste.

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